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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - Update on forfeiture bills

"Forfeiture bill faces almost certain death this session" reports Fatima Hussein, in an Indianapolis Star story. Rep. Washburne, R-Evansville, chairman of House Courts & Criminal Code committe, "said in an email to IndyStar that the House is not likely to hear Senate Bill 8." (Yes, the same Washburne who was yesterday named a semi-finalist for the Supreme Court). The story reports that instead, House Bill 1123, "which assigns a study committee on the topic of civil forfeiture laws ... has passed through the House and Senate and now awaits a signature from Gov. Eric Holcomb." The story continues:

Several lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of seizure are being litigated from the county to state levels. Attorneys say there is more at stake, especially if Senate Bill 8 dies.

Cardella at IU filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court against Marion County's prosecutor, Indianapolis' mayor and the chief of police for civil forfeiture practices that he says violate criminal defendants' constitutional right to due process.

"If the legislature isn't going to fix the problem, the fix is going to have to come from the courts," he said.

Cardella's suit [Jeff Cardella, an Indianapolis criminal law attorney and professor at Indiana University's Robert H. McKinney School of Law] has endured despite the state's attempts to dismiss the lawsuit. Federal Judge Magnus-Stinson issued a ruling earlier this month denying Marion County's motion to dismiss Leroy Washington v. Marion County Prosecutor.

In the event Cardella is not successful, "we will appeal," he said.

Later this week [ILB: today at 9 am], Indiana's Supreme Court will hear State v. Timbs, Landrover, a case where the state sought forfeiture of a Land Rover owned by Tyson Timbs, an Indiana man who had pleaded guilty to a multiple felonies dealing in a controlled substance and theft.

Timbs used the vehicle to drive from Marion, Indiana to Richmond, Indiana for the purposes of purchasing heroin. He alleges that the seizure of the vehicle, worth approximately $40,000, violates the 8th Amendment’s prohibition against excessive fines.

The Grant Superior Court entered judgment for Timbs on the forfeiture complaint. A majority of the Court of Appeals affirmed on grounds that the forfeiture would constitute excessive fines.

The Supreme Court has granted a petition to transfer the case and has assumed jurisdiction over the appeal.

ILB: More on forfeiture bills via this list.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 23, 2017 08:49 AM
Posted to Indiana Government